Bill would ban public camping, force Occupy tent removal - WKRN News 2

Bill would ban public camping, force Occupy tent removal

Posted: Updated: Feb 1, 2012 9:47 AM CST

After mass arrests failed last year, a state lawmaker is proposing a bill that would ban camping on public land and thus force the removal of tents at the state capitol belonging to protestors with the Occupy Nashville movement.

The encampment has been present at the capitol since last October.

Representative Eric Watson is behind the bill.

He told Nashville's News 2, "It's a really safety issue has nothing to do with protesters.  They can protest 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  This bill is not going to stop protesting."

He continued, "What this has become it's become a platform at the capitol grounds with drug addicts, there's been a lot of people arrested with dope, a lot of sex scenes have been seen in public view."

In addition, Watson told the Associated Press school groups have been reluctant to schedule trips to the capitol and weddings there have been put off.

Attorney David Briley, who has represented Occupy Nashville protesters in the past, called the bill "problematic when it comes to the first amendment."

The bill to ban camping on public land would need approval of the state House and Senate and the signature of Governor Bill Haslam before it becomes law.

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